- Welcome to Parent Talk
- What has happened to respect for human dignity?
- CONSENT – what does it mean?
- Helping your child to make new friends
- #MakingTime New mental health initiative
- Term 1 Council Meeting
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee Meeting
- Diverse Learning Needs resource offers hope to parents
- Have your say on draft K to 2 English and Mathematics curriculum
- Inspiring your child’s creativity
- Pope Francis encourages Catholics to support and defend families
- Australian Catholic Super
Welcome to the second issue of Parent Talk for 2021. I hope you and your extended families were not too badly affected by the recent torrential rain and flash flooding across NSW.
On 5 March we held the first CCSP Council meeting for 2021. There was a positive energy in the room with representatives from every diocese in NSW/ACT, making meaningful contributions to the meeting. More about this later in the newsletter.
Wayne Davie, CCSP Chair, and I travelled to Hay to attend the Isolated Children's Parents' Association (ICPA) Conference. We had the opportunity to connect with parents from far flung parts of the state as well as the Hon Sarah Mitchell, MLC, Minister for Education and Early Childhood, during the two day meeting.
It was wonderful to have many members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee meet in Sydney on 18 March. More about this later in the newsletter.
As you are aware, the issue of sexuality and consent education has been a major topic of discussion in the media, in families and in the education sector. I was invited by Dallas McInerney, Chief Executive Officer of Catholic Schools NSW, to be part of a panel to review the current teaching strategies and resources, provided by dioceses and schools, used for teaching about consent in Catholic schools in NSW/ACT. Based on a sample of materials, our report identifies how PDHPE, RE and Pastoral care programs work together in Catholic schools to educate children and young people in the areas of right and respectful relationships and sexuality and consent. This review serves to highlight examples of best practice while also identifying areas in which we can do better. What is already clear is that there does not appear to be a need for an additional off-the-shelf consent education teaching program mandated in every school across the state. While schools have a crucial role to play, the issues of consent and right and respectful relationships are societal issues and ones in which parents and carers need to exercise their responsibilities as the first educators of their children.
It is important that parent bodies like CCSP work closely with dioceses and schools to ensure that, in partnership, we provide our children and young people with respectful and life-giving instruction on what is an important matter for our social fabric.
In this edition of Parent Talk, we have collated information from several reputable sources to assist parents to continue to talk with their children about this significant, and potentially vexing, topic.
Finally, Pope Francis has encouraged all Catholics to support all families during Amoris Laetitia Family Year, which was launched on 19 March, the Feast Day of St Joseph.
My prayers are with you and your family during this Holy Season of Lent.
Peter Grace | Executive Director
A few months ago, many parents may not have heard of Chanel Contos, the former Kambala student who, through her online poll, has received thousands of testimonies from young women about alleged sexual assaults by their male friends and acquaintances.
The activities described in the testimonies demonstrate a lack of respect for the dignity of the human person, which is a principle of Catholic Social Teaching and the basis of right and respectful relationships.
It has opened discussions at many levels about sexuality education, consent, and the impact the increased viewing of pornography is having on children.
As parents and carers of young people, we want children and young people to have positive experiences, healthy relationships and opportunities to learn. We want them to respect others and respect themselves.
Curiosity is part of children’s development. Sadly, online pornography is easily accessible on the internet. Recent research from the eSafety Commissioner shows 50% of children 9-16 years have been exposed to online pornography. From Common Sense Media 2018, 40% of young people view pornography on their phones and 50% stream on their laptops. It is not uncommon for boys as young as 13 years old and girls 16 years old to watch online pornography. Alarmingly, much younger children may accidentally be exposed to online pornography.
Depending on your own upbringing, it may be difficult to have conversations with your children about these topics. The key message from many sources of parenting research is the child will be better off if they have a trusted adult they can speak with.
We have collated information from several reputable and reliable sources that may assist you to discuss these issues with children in your care.
The hard-to-have conversations
Plan and prepare
- Work out what you want to say and how you are going to say it
- Below are some links to websites, videos, podcasts and fact sheets
Find the right time and right place
- A place where you both will be comfortable and can speak privately without being interrupted or overheard
- A car trip, walk in the park, baking cakes, shooting basket ball hoops, or gardening
Helpful conversation starters
- ‘I want to talk with you about one of those awkward topics. Is that OK?’ (Children rarely say ‘no’, but if they do, respect that, and then set up a time where you can talk.)
If the child reveals things that are disturbing, some phrases you could use are
- ‘I understand what you're saying, and I'm glad you came to me about this. You're not going to get into trouble, but we need to trust each other, fix this and move forward.'
- ‘You might not want to tell me all the detail, but if we can talk honestly about what's happened I promise I will listen and stay calm. No matter what happens, we can do this and I love you.’
- "Just like a super hero movie, what you have seen is not real - they are paid actors."
Keep having the conversations.
Free parenting program
The American Culture Reframed Program for Parents of Tweens and Program for Parents of Teens both build young people’s resilience and resistance to hypersexualised media and porn while promoting their healthy development. These free online programs provide culturally competent, research-driven, age-based educational videos, conversation scripts, and resources for parents.
Personal Image sharing
The term ‘sexting’ is not often used by young people or in popular culture. Young people are more likely to refer to other terms like ‘sending nudes' or ‘dick pics’.
A 2017 online safety survey conducted by the eSafety Commissioner found 1 in 3 young people said they had actually experienced sexting in some way — whether sending, receiving, asking, being asked, sharing or showing nude or nearly nude pictures.
There are many serious consequences that can result from inappropriate image sharing. In addition to humiliation and damage to personal reputation, there could be criminal charges and penalties. eSafety.gov.au has a highly informative page on their website.
ThinkUKnow is a national program delivering online child safety information, which gives parents, carers, teachers and students information on how to stay safe online. Presentations are aimed at increasing awareness about online child sexual exploitation. This includes avoiding unwanted contact, online grooming, self-generated content, sexual extortion and how to get help.
ThinkUKnow was started in the United Kingdom by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) and was developed for Australian audiences by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) in 2009.
The program is a partnership between the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Microsoft Australia, Datacom and the Commonwealth Bank, and is delivered in collaboration with New South Wales Police Force, Northern Territory Police, Queensland Police Service, South Australia Police, Tasmania Police, Western Australia Police and Victoria Police as well as Neighbourhood Watch Australia.
It is Australia’s first (and only) nationally delivered crime prevention program.
Recently, the topic of sexual consent has been widely discussed in the media. To give consent is to agree to do something or allow someone to do something to you. A person may withdraw consent at any time if they change their mind. This short video uses the analogy of drinking a cup of tea to explain consent in the context of sexual relationships.
For some children, making friends is easy while other children may find it difficult. For her recent article in ABC Everyday, Amanda Hob interviewed Natasha Wardman, Lecturer in Education Studies at the Australian Catholic University, and Kimberley O'Brien, a Sydney-based child psychologist, to create some helpful tips for parents of children who are just beginning their school-life journey or changing schools.
- Check in with your child. If you have concerns, speak with their teacher.
- Practise some conversation skills with your children. Ask open ended questions, using positive, respectful language.
- Generate opportunities for your children to make friendships outside of school. It could be sport, music, dance, Parish events or a picnic in the local park.
Image Pexels: Mary Taylor
The first CCSP Council meeting for 2021 took place in Sydney on 5 March. A significant part of the meeting was allocated to diocesan sharing. Parent representatives from each of the 11 NSW/ACT dioceses discussed opportunities and challenges facing parent representative bodies. Representatives from the dioceses without a Diocesan Parent Body (DPO) were able to gain significant insights about the function of a DPO.
Being the first year of CCSP's 2021-2023 Strategic Plan, the Council considered which projects to prioritise for 2021. We will be providing you with updates on these throughout the year.
2021 CCSP Chair, Wayne Davie, formally thanked Narelle Burke, CCSP Chair 2018-2020, for her leadership of and commitment to CCSP. Narelle will continue to be CCSP's representative on the national peak body, Catholic School Parents Australia (CSPA), for the remainder of the year.
It was wonderful to be able to welcome several new parent representatives into the CCSP Council. An induction session was held for the new Councillors the day before the meeting.
Most dioceses in NSW/ACT employ a professional officer to facilitate local parent engagement initiatives and to provide support for their parent representatives on the CCSP Council. We thank these officers for attending our meetings and thank the dicoese for their ongoing committment to the work of CCSP.
A mother's determination sparks an innovation
"One mum’s passion for helping her son with learning disabilities get the best education possible has sparked a new resource to assist parents and carers facing similar challenges" wrote Marilyn Rodrigues in the 14 March edition of The Catholic Weekly. You can read the full article here.
Supporting Diverse Learning in Catholic Schools, A Guide by Parents for Parents can be downloaded from the CCSP website here.
Each section of the booklet can be separately downloaded, including, Tips for getting organised, Conversation Starters for Challenging Topics and Visuals Board.
Already, CCSP has received lots of very positive feedback from parents, carers, teachers, school principals and Diocesan Directors.
The NSW Education Standard Authority (NESA) is implementing many curriculum reforms. The plan is for schools to start implementing the new Kindergarten to Year Two English and Maths syllabus from Term 1 2022 with full implementation during the 2023 school year.
Parents, carers, community members and teachers are invited to provide feedback about the draft outcomes and content. The evidence-based draft outcomes for English and Mathematics clearly identify essential learning and the sequence for teaching foundational skills. The NESA website has more detail about the proposed changes and details how you can provide your input. Public consultation is open until 30 April.
In addition to this, CCSP will soon provide feedback to NESA via a cross sector Curriculum Reform Parent Roundtable.
The Shape exhibition features a selection of students’ exemplary 2020 HSC major projects from Design and Technology, Industrial Technology and Textiles and Design. Shape 2020 is presented by NESA, in association with the Powerhouse Museum.
Shape 2020 is open at the Powerhouse Museum. It closes 9 May 2021.
For the first time, audiences will have access to the Shape 2020 virtual exhibition to explore the projects and portfolios on display at the Powerhouse Museum from 16 March 2021.
TEXStyle 2021 online exhibition showcases 20 outstanding Textiles and Design projects from the 2020 Higher School Certificate exhibition HSC exhibition. The works have been photographed using high-resolution, 3d imaging and deep zoomorthomosaics allowing students to review how the works have been created.
Emily Meehan from O'Connor Catholic College Armidale
Zara Pittionii from Brigidine College St Ives
Anika Bharadwaj from Loreto Normanhurst and
Lilly Herberstein from Mercy College Chatswood
for having their major works showcased in this exhibition.
Launching Amoris Laetitia Family Year, Pope Francis has noted the importance of family ties during challenging circumstances.
“It is not enough to just reiterate doctrine, he said. We are called “to enter homes with discretion and with love, to say to spouses: the Church is with you, the Lord is close to you, we want to help you keep the gift you have received.”
Source: CNA and CathNews. You can read the full article here.